Question about light and color
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  1. #1
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    Question about light and color

    I was looking out in my back yard this evening, and observing the warm and cool relationships caused by the sunlight and cast shadows. I noticed a piece of grey metal that had a yellow color to it because of the sun there was also a nice blue cast shadow falling across it. Then I started wondering this:

    If the color of an object is determined by the colors in light that it doesn't absorb (or the reflected color), why does the visible color of a light affect the color of an object?

    To clarify: If I have a grey object being hit with evening sunlight, why does the yellow of the evening sun dominate the overall color of the object? Shouldn’t the object absorb the excess color and remain grey? I’m obviously missing something here.

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    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Its not absorbing any more color than it does at mid day. Whats changing is the color of the light as the sun is lower in the sky the light is passing through more air and loses the shorter wavelengths of blues and violets through scattering, the longer wavelengths yellows and reds are left.

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    A middle grey object reflects about 20% of the long, middle and short wavelengths falling on it. So if the light falling on it has a high proportion of long and middle wavelengths, so will the light it reflects.

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    So, the atmospheric scattering effect that creates the dominant golden light is also what is responsible for the purple clouds at sunset? Very cool.

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